Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Pike Madness


Holy Hannah! March is just around the corner and that means hawg belly pike time. It’s one of my favorites times of the year and it is by far the best chance to catch a trophy pike.

As the sun starts melting the snow, that surrounds the shorelines, the warm water starts to trickle into the lakes. All the big pike that were roaming the open water start to move in and “stage” for spawning season. It’s usually like clock work and very predictable. It should be noted that most lakes have been closed to fishing so that leaves us with border water here in Minnesota and more specifically Lake of the Woods. The fish right now are still out roaming but the best bite usually happens when the first flight of big ones move shallow. Well I said it was like clock work and predictable but as with any fishing you have to hit “that day” just right and you will have a day to remember. So with that said I can’t tell you the exact date when “that day” is but watch the forecast and weather channels for warm weather and have the gear loaded and ready to head north.

When “that day” comes and you get the flags set don’t mess around with cheap equipment because when that hawg belly bites you don’t want to miss the chance of a lifetime because of “chensy” equipment. So here are the must haves when you head north.

Good Release tools! So I’m putting the cart way in front of the horse and assuming your going to catch a big one and you will if you listen to what I have to say. The most valuable part of catching the monster pike is the monster pike itself so without good release tools you are taking a chance at harming one of the gems. It takes many years for this fish to get to this trophy size so let’s take good care of them. So here is a list of must haves release tools; a good hook cutter/bolt cutter, long noise pliers, jaw spreader, measuring tape, and hook out tool. With these you should be set. Have these tools ready when the flag goes up. Don’t leave them in your truck or fish house and run to the flag land the fish then look around yelling get the release tools. Have them in a bucket or took box and bring them with to each and every flag. Land the fish and please don’t allow the fish to roll around on the ice. Have a plan once the fish is removed from the water. Someone is in charge of hook removal and photography. If you have a plan this will help with the chaos of when that monster comes through the hole. Also let these big fish go! You can get beautiful replicas made and I would recommend Rick Lax at Lax Reproductions. Rick and his crew are so talented! Check out is work at Lax Reproductions

Second you need a good tip up with a large spool. Most of the tip ups today are made fairly good so just make sure you use one with a large spool. I prefer the style that covers the whole hole. Then make sure you have good fresh tip up line. I like to use the cloth 30 to 40 pound. Then of coarse your Bigtooth Tackle Quick-strike Rig. I like the “natural” rig because it holds the bait at the minnow’s natural swimming state. Bigtooth Tackle is made tough and the crimps are double hand crimped. With the “natural” rig, hook one hook behind the head and the other just behind the dorsal fin. Make sure not to spread the hooks too far apart as when the fish hits you would like to hook her with both hooks. The best part about the “natural” rig is you don’t have to let the fish run and swallow the bait. You can set the hook right away preventing deeply hooked fish. You don’t need to set the hook like hulk Hogan either. Just a nice stiff hook set will suffice and don’t wrap the line around your hand. Just be ready to let the fish run as with this big ones they will make many big runs and if you don’t give them line they will rip the hook out. Make sure no slack gets in the line and be prepared when the fish does a “u” turn to reel up the slack. Now sometimes with the big ones they still get the bait super deep so that is why it is so important to have all the tools necessary. You can read more about Bigtooth Tackle at Bigtooth Tackle Company You can purchase the Bigtooth rigs at many retailers and online at

Of coarse you have to drill your holes. The new Solo Engine by Strikemaster makes drilling holes a breeze. If you don’t have a ten-inch auger you can drill two eight-inch holes next to each other. Go Strikemaster Augers and check out the new Solo Engine they are powerful so hang on tight!

Next, a variety of fresh bait is a must! I like to use both frozen smelt and live suckers on my rigs. Last but least don’t forget good clothing! Fishing cold is no fun. I use my IceArmor Blue Suit and I’m all set. With tip up fishing you are on your knees a lot so one of the essential parts of the IceArmor Suits is the padded knees. Check em’ out at Clam Ice Fishing

Ok so we have most of our equipment set so where in the world do we fish? Well it’s no secret we are headed to Lake of the Woods and there are so many places to fish but a few things to look at are feeder creeks and rivers. There are many to fish around and some are fished more then others but just remember to keep your distance from a group that is already set up. Usually my first trip up we spread our tip ups in a straight line starting deep then moving shallow. If we aren’t getting bites we leap frog depending on if it’s late or early March. If we aren’t getting bites and it’s the first part of March we take the shallow one and move it deeper. Deep would be considered 12 to 14 feet and shallow would be 4 to 6 feet. So that is the name of the game. Find how deep they are staged and bada boom you will have flags flying everywhere. Once you determine the right depth concentrate your flags there and always have a few sleepers either shallower or deeper.

Here are a few items you should also think about bringing; sun block, ice cleats, good camera, GPS with lake chip, hook sharpener, hook proof gloves, and did I mention Bigtooth Tackle?

Good luck fishing and please feel free to contact me with any questions at

“Make a Memory”

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